Thursday, February 20, 2014

Good "science-nerdy" fun

Mien "Brabeeba" '14, paired up with Kenny '14 to do an Independent Project on the physics of "granular solids," collections of lots of little things like sand, gravel, or rice.  Pursuing several experimental avenues, the duo - along with advisor Nick Guilbert - have created a series of videos illustrating their work. All of the videos of their research can be viewed here.





From Brabeeba: The main reason that motivated me to dive into granular materials again is revenge (Editor's note: For more on Brabeeba's competitive spirit, read his recent chapel talk). Three years ago, before coming to Peddie, I built a mini vertically-shaking table in order to show Faraday heaping, a periodic heaping behavior in a vertically vibrating environment. However, I failed (Otherwise I would not be doing it right now right? lol) This year, when I enrolled in Advanced Research Physics, I immediately decided this time I am going to clean the "stain" on me and be successful. 

With increased knowledge and budget, Kenny and I built an humongous shaking table and researched literature to find some interesting experiments; for example, the use of index of reflection to make glass beads vanish, the use of the Brazil nut effect to automatically sort different particles by size, or building a 2D-chamber to research heaping and avalanche. All those things have been researched before; yet we also ventured to discover something new. Right now, our main objective is to research in the equilibrium between diffusion and gravity in a tilted shaking environment. Hopefully, by the end of 2014, we can finish our paper and submit it either to a science fair or a journal.

From Guilbert: The videos are designed for the general public - curious folks, armchair scientists, kids, etc - as the main audience.  But also a part of the audience is science students and teachers who may be in an environment - a remote school, or a school with limited resources, or perhaps homeschoolers -  where there aren't the funds and/or the expertise to do experiments like this. The videos can be used to learn or teach physics in their own setting.  Each video includes a section at the end that dives more deeply into the physics underlying what the video shows.  Those parts are completely skip-able for most viewers without losing any of the ideas from elsewhere in the video.

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